Following Osborne’s Budget statement came the response from Mil The Younger. And following that was a horde of clueless Tory MPs and unthinking pundits ready to put the boot in. The prize specimen among the latter was Dan Hodges, formerly the Colonel Nicholson of the Labour Party, telling “Budget 2014: Ed Miliband's wretched, incoherent response showed that he is not ready to be PM”.
Not being ousted just yet
Yes, this time he knew the score, and was going to put the boot in. Moreover, he was so important that Miliband would have to sit up and take notice: “As regular readers may know, I’m not the Labour leader’s biggest fan. I’ve got absolutely nothing against him personally, and on those occasions we’ve bumped into each other he’s been polite and funny and generous with his time”.
A Tory droid speaks ...
See? This isn’t just any old rant from another of those who inhabits the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, it’s from someone who moves in really, really important circles. And he says Ed was rubbish yesterday! So, it seems, do a variety of Tory MPs, to no surprise at all. “That was an awful response to Budget from Ed Miliband. A pre-scripted, embarrassing performance. Labour MPs look rightly glum” was typical.
... followed by another obedient servant ...
That was from Tracey Crouch, who took the approved attack lines (“pre-scripted”? She doesn’t know. What the heck. Looks good. Might sound good on telly). So did Harriet Baldwin: “Did anyone catch any economic policy in Ed Miliband’s woeful speech? Sounded like a grumpy rant in a socialist workers’ bar” she trilled. Yes, the I-speak-your-weight brigade was on good form.
... and three in a row means more bingo!
But what about the supposedly ever-present threat to Miliband’s leadership? Fear not, Greg Hands is here, and he knows the threat is real (in his own world): “Labour front bench has emptied after that car crash speech from Ed Miliband. Off plotting? You’d better watch your back, Ed” he sniped. Yes, it wasn’t only Grant “Spiv” Shapps who was playing bingo yesterday.
Eh? Is he being serious?
That was not how some Labour supporters saw it: Sunny Hundal was unequivocal in his positive assessment of Miliband’s response: “Miliband confidently on the offensive. He knows his narrative about cost of living is strong”. Now, Sunny occasionally gets shedloads of stick for his stances, but this one turned out to be on the money. There were two reasons for this.
Yes he is. And he's done his homework
As he then pointed out, “Ed Miliband office confirms Labour leader was not given redacted budget statement an hour before Osborne stood up, as is normal” (no wonder the Tories had their scripts ready). So he did the best he could, given the Tories had deliberately shat on him. And what got into the evening TV news programmes pushed his message home most effectively.
Yet still the Tories underestimate him. More fool them.